Have you ever thought about going to a social gathering wearing absolutely nothing? That’s right, being completely nude while mingling with friends over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Well, for naturists, also referred to as nudists, this is quite the norm.
Naturism, or nudism, which are used interchangeably, defines the practice of being nude, particularly in social settings. While being naked in front of a group of friends may seem a bit unorthodox to some, it is a practice in which many North Carolinians partake.
According to The Naturist Society), an American naturist organization that also publishes a quarterly periodical called Nude & Natural, the social nudity that encompasses naturism is liberating and promotes self-acceptance as well as the acceptance of others.
“Body acceptance is the idea, nude recreation is the way,” says The Naturist Society.
The North Carolina Naturists (NCN) are a nudist group composed mainly of members from the Charlotte and Greensboro area. Formed in 1981, NCN’s primary reason for organizing was to provide local nudists with an outlet to network and to go hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the time, there were other organizations but were landed clubs, which require a substantial fee and are known for being more family-oriented.
qnotes was able to speak with Roy, a member of NCN, to learn a little bit about the naturist lifestyle here in North Carolina. Being a somewhat private person, Roy prefers to keep his last name anonymous for this story.
How long have you been a member of NCN?
I joined NCN in 2011 through a mutual nudist I met online.
Give a brief description of NCN in your own words. Aside from the obvious aspects of your organization, what is it to you?
NCN is a group of nudists that enjoy the company of other nudists, so we try and get together at least once a month. When the weather is nice we have our events outdoors and when it cools down too much we come inside.
What motivated you to become a member? Had you had prior exposure to the naturist lifestyle? If so, for how long?
My motive was to be a part of a small group that enjoyed the same thing I did — being nude and relaxing in the company of others that liked that lifestyle. I had belonged to a small club for about eight years near Raleigh, N.C. and hoped to find another club.
Describe one of your most memorable experiences at an NCN gathering? It doesn’t have to be anything out of the norm, just something that you consider meaningful to you.
It had to be the afternoon I told the club members my husband and I had gotten married, everyone toasted to that news.
Roughly, how many members does NCN have?
We have about 30 members in the club with membership slowly growing. Ages range from the mid-30s to 80s. Most live close or in Charlotte, N.C., but we do have members as far as Greensboro and Hickory, N.C. and even near Clemson, S.C.
What’s the ratio of male to female members? List any minorities within NCN.
I’d have to say about 60-40, as with many landed clubs, there usually seems to be more male participants than women.
Roughly, how many of your members of NCN are LGBTQ?
I’ll just say that every member is accepting of everyone. We don’t ask or care if a potential, new member is LGBTQ, married, single, divorced, purple or polka-dotted. We care that they are a good person who enjoys and values the lifestyle. When everyone is nude… everyone is the same and equal.
Describe some of your customs and/or rituals. Is there anything unique about your organization that comes to mind that might differ from other naturist/nudist organizations or groups, aside from NCN not being a landed club?
The one big custom is that we are nude (I know… Captain Obvious). Some ladies will wear a sheer sarong, but most enjoy being nude. Many men will wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep shoulders from burning. We usually have a potluck-style lunch where the host lets everyone know what they will make and others will compliment that meal with a side dish or dessert. No other customs aside from being polite and not getting carried away if one is having an adult beverage.
What do you consider to be the cornerstone of your organization? What, most of all, does NCN represent?
The freedom of being nude with people that enjoy the nudist lifestyle and having a safe place to gather and meet socially with those friends.
Does NCN have a mission statement, motto or mantra? Any core beliefs or philosophies?
Hmmm, good question… if any motto, “Life is too short, get naked.” The golden rule is to be kind too.
Describe some of the locations and environments where your gatherings take place. Do you have any special amenities? Do your gatherings ever have special themes or celebrate certain holidays?
We will have themed events around some holidays. Dressing up is optional since we are all nude. Halloween can be interesting, as well as a small gag-gift exchange at Christmas. We have had afternoon and evening gatherings, card nights and even a ‘“wear your favorite hat day.” We meet at club members’ homes since we are a non-landed club and don’t have a central meeting location. Some homes have hot tubs, a pool, fish ponds and beautiful gardens to stroll through and just relax and enjoy the serenity of it all.
How does one become a member of NCN? Does NCN have any kind of screening or vetting process or application for membership? Dues, fees, other contributions?
Aside from the still-in-progress website, membership is by word of mouth. Members can and will bring a friend that may be interested in the lifestyle to an event. If the guest is still interested then membership can be offered. If interest is through the website, one of the board of directors will meet with in person, in public or their home, to answer any questions they may have regarding the club. The first thing we do tell them is that it is NOT a swingers group or club. It is strictly a social club. Annual dues are very inexpensive and if you host an event your dues are reduced.
Is being a naturist something you keep private or are discreet about in your everyday life? If so, why? Is this something that varies widely or is there more of a general consensus among members?
Discretion is important and I think most members would agree. However, if someone asks me, I would tell them I am a nudist the same if I were to tell them I’m gay and married.